Seasonal festivities in India – Navaratri and Durga Puja

While it is baking, Halloween and Thankgiving in this side of the world, how do Indians celebrate Fall season? Our cultures line up a series of festive occasions to induce a happy mindset, making sure we are focusing on happy thoughts and happy moments. How does that happen?

Navaratri / Durga Puja festival – Fall starts with Navaratri festival, focusing on 9 days of expressing gratitude and thanks to Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. The 9 days / nights are filled with festivals and ceremonies. Bells ringing in all temples, special ceremonies, chariot rides, doll arrangements in South India, huge pandals in Bengal side, Dandia and celebrations in the west and setting of Ravan-vadh (killing of Ravan by Sri Rama) strawman on fire in the North. Every part of has a series of festivals.

There are pandal contests in Bengal and no householder stays indoors during these 9 days. Everyone is walking all over the city to visit huge pandals, with huge idols that bring out the creativity of every individual in that part of the country. There is a lot of pride in making these and waiting to judge and critic which pandal idol was the most creative. Look at the architecture and craftmanship of each of them below.

All pandals serve food constantly for the visitors making it easier for the women to step out of the house (and not continue to focus on cooking on festival days).

South Indians on the contrary have doll arrangements in varied forms and many old houses have multiple rooms set aside for storing the old dolls. Every year, one new doll has to added to the set and that tradition blends the old with the new. Grandparents transition their knowledge, rituals, food served and practices followed to the new generation through the practice of these rituals. Men in the household help to setup the stairs (involves carpentry, design, moving boxes and boxes of furniture around) and women and kids in the household get to design and decorate the place with dolls.

A variety of food is prepared with sesame seeds, chick peas, dalia, mustard, peanuts – most of them give an extra boost of necessary supplements to help increase our immunity.

Tamboolam – Gifts for visitors is shared for all women who come to visit the household. Young girls and women wear beautiful silk dresses and visit all their relatives to collect these. Also, every household plans and shops for small tiny articles that can be given away as gifts for visitors. Typically, items that a woman uses to adorn herself – like bangles, mirror, comb, bindi, hair bands, flowers, fruits, betel leaf and nut, turmeric pods, clothes, turmeric and kumkum powder and a decorative bag to hold these. Silver articles, gift idols, tulsi plants, special bags, jute bags, tiny decorative articles are all fancy items that can be added to the gift bag based on interest levels.

All these festivals bring back fond memories!

Navaratri / Durga puja starts on Saturday October 17, 2020 – Eagerly looking forward to it!

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